Day 948: The Game of Life

Yesterday, George — my EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapist — and I discussed (among other things) the games of life you have to play if you’re working for a big bureaucracy, like a teaching hospital in Boston.

Immediately before that therapy session, I had snapped a few photos of the games I saw in the waiting room outside of George’s office:


I particularly noted the building block game Jenga, since George uses Jenga as a metaphor for how EMDR works: picking out old traumatic memories until an unhelpful, outdated, and intricate system of beliefs about oneself and the world …. collapses.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game of Jenga, here is the cast of the film musical “Annie” playing with a giant Jenga set on The Ellen DeGeneres Show:

For the past month, George and I have been trying to remove the building block of a particularly traumatic memory — a doctor calling me a spoiled brat at age 10 when I requested relief for excruciating pain I had after surgery and then leaving me alone, with my pain, in a hospital room.

Last week, I wrote a blog post about George’s suggestion of transforming the effects of  that old memory by bringing in a group of helpful, supportive people (including WordPress readers) to revisit that long-ago hospital room and encounter that doctor in new ways.

This transformation, which we worked on yesterday,  included:

  • The mother from Terms of Endearment (played by Shirley MacLaine) yelling at the doctor about the pain I was in,
  • Jackie Chan grabbing an I.V. pole in the hospital room, twirling it around, and bashing the doctor in the stomach, and
  • My current cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, telling the doctor he’d better believe me about the pain and take care of things STAT, or his career as a pediatrician was over.

When it came time, yesterday, to forgive that doctor for what he did to me 52 years ago, I had to bring in some big guns, including

They all helped me hear and take in that doctor’s long overdue apology.

Here‘s  jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, with a song from the wonderful album School Days:

I recommend  playing “Life is Just a Game ” as  a musical accompaniment to some other images I game-fully captured, yesterday —  before and after George, I, and a supporting cast of dozens schooled and otherwise re-encountered that doctor from long ago:





What games of life are standing out for you? Feel free to play with me, here and now, in a comment below.


Game-of-life-changing thanks to George, Ellen, Shirley, Jackie, Dr. Salem, Val,  the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller, Gandhi, Stanley Clarke, people who heal in groups, and everybody else who helped me revisit that old hospital room, yesterday. And special thanks to you — of course! — for playing the Game of Life as best you can, today.

Categories: gratitude, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 44 Comments

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44 thoughts on “Day 948: The Game of Life

  1. I love those framed fortune cookie fortunes! Living with intent sounds like a good plan and I assume one that is followed at the center for intentional living.

  2. One of the games I’m playing today is 1)not be mad at the weather — that’s like being mad at the universe — but my garden does look devastated after two days of hail storms!

  3. Lovely post , Ann!! I love the descriptions of each advocate’s actions. Your room was re- filled with light – i love the way they all contributed to helping clear the room of that doc’s cruelty. I agree that the reason this had so much power was not the event itself but the lack of allies and WITNESSES in the room to put a stop to it- a bodycam for pediatricians who have too much potential power to hurt instead of heal. Your memory is that bodycam and playing what really happened that day for the people (us) and the heros (your chosen ) – is a double – a triple wallop to the abuse this doc tried to control u with. XOXO

  4. Fortune cookie white slip we need to see, Ann: Wag more, bark less. That bumper sticker is the best! Good job bringing that gent into your session. He’s a peacemaker who can stop traffic.

  5. In the photos of games I noticed “I Spy”, which I didn’t realize came in a board game version. It’s a game that can be played anywhere by anyone, even when we’re alone. And we can spy whatever we want even if it’s not really there. That’s what’s so great: if you need them you can spy Jackie Chan or Helen Keller or Jimi Hendrix any time you need them.

  6. Hoping you’re finding EMDR helpful. Me? Off to Should Collage today. Incredible!

  7. I love the Game of Life. You should come up with an idea for a board game.

    • I actually did come up with a board game, Alex (for a marketing brochure I created a long time ago). However, no board game can beat the game of life we all play, right?

      • What was the board game about? Do you have a link to a post?

      • It was the game of marketing, for a brochure cover, in a long ago time before links, websites, and blogs. I’ll see if I can find it and take a photo of it. Thanks for your interest, Alex; that improves my personal game of life!

      • You’re way ahead in that 🙂

  8. I hope the therapy works for you

  9. Mark took my comment. Love “Wag more, bark less”..That’s golden ! ☺

    p.s…I hope you never have to wait long enough in a Dr.’s office to play the game of Life…that’s a time commitment.

  10. I love your Black-eyed Susan flowers image, and that beautiful art work of the cranes and primitive art you took there. One of my games of life I suppose is to quietly observe how life goes on (with my camera, I do the same thing), and realise it does continue despite all our anxiety and preoccupations. When we look at Nature, however, one notices that she is the one with the patience; she knows how to wait in a masterful way.

    Guess who I found here:


    These are 12 Cats Who Look Like Buddha, enjoy:

    • I knew this excellent post reminded me of Florence Scovel Shinn (September 24, 1871, Camden, New Jersey – October 17, 1940) . She was an American artist and book illustrator who became a “New Thought” ( spiritual teacher and metaphysical writer in her middle years. In New Thought circles, she is best known for her first book, “The Game of Life and How to Play It “(1925).

      Shinn expressed her philosophy as:

      “The invisible forces are ever working for man who is always ‘pulling the strings’ himself, though he does not know it. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever man voices, he begins to attract”-
      ‘The Game of Life’, Florence Scovel Shinn

      She is said to have influenced Louise Hay, except she is more of a Christian scientist. A psychologist once recommended her book to me. Her books were made into free audiobooks:

      It even has an Apple file (GameOfLife_librivox.m4b) you can transfer to your iPhone.

      • The game of life becomes more interesting the more people share important and helpful information. Thanks for doing that here, Maria.

    • Wonderful insights, Maria, to help us all with our personal games of life. And the images are great, too!

  11. Maureen


    • In my personal game of life, I’ve discovered that seeing the extraordinary in others reflects the extraordinary in oneself. Thank you, extraordinary Maureen.

  12. Playing the game of life:

  13. yeoldefoole

    The Chocolate Galaxy calls out to me!

  14. Enjoyed this post very much. You are so clever!

  15. Unfortunately, the true game of life has no board and no instructions. It is the one game you must create for yourself.

  16. Sure seems like your fortune cookie was spot on!

  17. The characters in my book – discover that the game of life in the beginning – is at a level playing field for all. As one proceeds through life, one builds energy, either good, bad or a combination of both, and at the end of the game, the energy accumulated through ones life determines where one goes as they travel on. It was quite therapeutic to write that novel, because it made me feel like all the right things will come back, and all the wrongs that have been done by others will travel back to them.

    • This comment about your book has great energy, SD, and was therapeutic for me to read. Thanks for improving my game of life.

  18. Sorry I am a bit late to this game Ann! …
    I love this post – We are all playing the game of life and it goes on for ever 🙂
    Thank you for letting me by one of your heavies! It truly is an honor.
    We all need support to navigate this game. I love your needs list. Its so great when we know what we need to play the game well.
    Keep playing … and enjoy the Scottish game coming up.

  19. Pingback: Day 2812: Overload | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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